I originally posted this two years ago. I am posting it again because it still sums up my feelings about this day in history. Hug your babies, tell people you love them, tell them again. Look intently into the eyes of those who mean the most to you. Listen to their laughter and keep it close to your heart. Look for the holy in the commonplace.
There are so many memories of that day. It was an extraordinarily beautiful fall day. We had no idea how it would end.
I read the paper while drinking my coffee. I thought that the biggest news of the day was that the Bishop had Alzheimer's Disease. My husband called me and said to turn on the tv because a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.
It all happened in a blur after that. I just stood there, transfixed in front of the tv set. I called a couple of friends to make sure they watched too, but I just stood there, staring. It was so confusing at first, I remember wondering how on earth they would be able to reconnect the top and bottom of the first tower that was hit. I wondered how a pilot could go so off course as to run into a skyscraper. And then I heard one of the newscasters suggest that it was an act of terror.
How could that happen?
And the rest went by in a blur. I was standing there watching in live time when the second plane flew in and hit the other tower. I was standing there when they collapsed. It was amazing that the sky was so blue that day, the sun so bright and suddenly there was a blizzard-like dust falling from the sky. People ran away, crying, covered in debris.
I live in a bedroom community in NJ. My husband commutes to the city every day. We were all deeply, personally affected by the murders that took place on September 11, 2001. I am thankful that I didn't personally know anyone who died, but that doesn't even matter to me because I feel as though I knew many of them. Todd and Lisa Beamer attended the church that several of my friends attend. The husband of a woman who attended my MOPS group was killed. I went to pick my husband up at the commuter parking lot and there were just so many extra cars there for days and days. How many of those cars belonged to victims, I'll never know, but I can imagine.
I think that those of us who live in NY, NJ, PA, Southern CT, and the DC area share a sadly unique bond. For weeks afterwards (it felt like months) the daily newspapers listed the names of those whose remains had been found, or of those who were still unaccounted for. We turned on the tv and every newscast featured some poor, tortured soul holding up a wedding or graduation picture of their missing loved one. I particularly remember a man whose wife had died, leaving him with a 6 month old baby. He had a freezer full of her breast milk, so at least she could continue to nourish her baby after she had died.
And so I sobbed off and on all morning today. I listened to the reading of the names at the Ground Zero Memorial Service because I need to hear their names. Each one of those people meant the world to someone, they must be acknowledged.
This is still so fresh for many, many of us. But no matter how long I live, I dare not allow myself to forget. I watch the coverage and let myself grieve because I want to remember how personal and how all consuming the sadness was.